Home – New Forums Tech talk How do you choose the website platform?

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  • #981481
    Brent@Ontrax
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    How does everyone choose the correct website format, CMS solution or platform for your clients? Do you as a Web Designer/Developer consider the clients full requirements or do you just stick with what you know and sell them that solution?

    I have noticed the very high volume of people on this forum that talk about WordPress but I don’t think I’ve read very much at all, if anything, about Joomla, Drupal, Ruby or even straight up HTML/PHP/Java coded for web sites.

    What is the preferred medium for the SEO’s? As this process should be done before a website is even designed and/or written.

    The reason why I’m asking is because I have recently taken on 2 new network & server clients, both of whish are complaining about their websites. The designers sold them the solution that they wanted and not what the customer needed. Now I’ve got the challenge of advising them that this is NOT the common practice and have to arrange to get them New Sites, with a heavily reduced budget. One of them is a Micro Business which has tried to get in touch with the designer but he is no longer returning calls/emails and the other is a large company that is now perusing legal advice.

    Please let me make it clear that I’m not implying that this is what everyone, except for me, does. I look after many clients who have been provided websites, by different designers, which they love. Some are hardcoded and some are CMS solutions. Also I happy to note that neither of the designers involved are members of the FS Community, as far as I can tell from the FS Directory.

    Brent

    #1130707
    Zava Design
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    Good discussion to have, especially for non-technical small business owners.

    It always worries me when I hear anyone talking about the “single solution” they use being the “best solution” for their clients.

    “I use such-and-such CMS, because it’s the bees knees and will even make you coffee!”

    There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution to all sites, no more than there is for any area of service. And there is no CMS that exists that is suitable for every kind of website. Fact.

    If you’re a web designer/developer only offering a single technology platform then you have two options:

    1) Learn additional platforms, so you can offer the BEST solution to your client, not merely the only one you know.

    2) Partner with someone, or have someone you can recommend, if a potential client’s requirements are not best addressed by what you can offer.

    Oh, sorry, I guess you do have a third:

    3) Sell them on a solution that is not ideal for them, and pocket their money.

    Brent@Ontrax, post: 148224 wrote:
    … I don’t think I’ve read very much at all, if anything, about Joomla, Drupal, Ruby or even straight up HTML/PHP/Java coded for web sites.
    Though please note: Joomla is not the best solution for any type of site. ;)
    #1130708
    JohnTranter
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    ahem, option (4) – Advertise yourself as a particular platform expert, so you are only approached by people interested in that platform.
    (This does occasionally fail, I have been approached by someone asking for a blog website done in Magento, to which I replied that it might be better done in WordPress)

    #1130709
    Greg_M
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    Good topic.

    I only cater to a small selection of clients who want websites, all of them bar none are looking for a completely managed package, if they require more than a straight forward CMS, I handball them, or if they are not interested in the platform I use (after a thorough discussion of the pluses and minuses ) ditto.

    I found fully managing websites for people on conventional open source CMS’s too maintenance heavy for the available return (client budget resistance). I was even running my own VPS at Linode to give clients a better bang for their buck than shared hosting … it worked a treat … but I now believe if you’re managing sites for clients the server side stuff is too fraught with risk unless your an experienced server admin that, 1. doesn’t mind being on call, or 2. doesn’t mind having someone else’s business in the palm of your hand 24/7 … neither of which I enjoy.

    So, I’ve migrated everything to Squarespace6, and any new small business requests are going there too … they handle the backend, provide me with a secure platform to code on … or even better, hackable templates for el cheapo sites.

    If people don’t want to use me, I can just transfer the account.

    You’d be hard pushed to convince me there’s better functionality, scalability, or security available on any conventionally hosted open source CMS, or better value for money hosting wise. (caveat … typical small business CMS).

    For my own projects I use Ruby on Rails (apps not websites) and have tried a few deployment options, currently going through a bit of a learning curve with EC2.

    I don’t do any client work using Rails, strictly speculative, so no one to please but me.

    As a generalisation I think many web design/ developers get a comfy with a particular CMS as part of their workflow ( a workflow they rely on when pricing a site) and don’t consider other options, just get better defence arguments for their system of choice.

    #1130710
    Brent@Ontrax
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    Being an IT person trained in PCs/Networks/Servers, a Computer Programmer and a Business Analyst, I see all types of solutions at client sites. I believe, that I should keep my personal technology interests and beliefs at home and just provide my customers with the solution/s that best suits their needs. Now, in saying that, there is NO WAY possible that 1 person can learn or even know about every different solution there are out there; but by using search engines, other technology partners and business networks (like FS), there is no real reason why the client shouldn’t be able to get what they require.

    Zava Design, post: 148235 wrote:
    Though please note: Joomla is not the best solution for any type of site. ;)
    Could you please explain your reasoning for this statement. With the 3 main CMS solutions available WordPress, Joomla & Drupal; they are considered as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced; in that order. I have read heaps of articles, blogs etc that show a distinct difference between the 3 of them. Each have their Pros & Cons and a preference as to which type of site they best service. I have created, used and support both WordPress and Joomla sites, I have also developed in Joomla. I ‘ve not yet ventured into Drupal as I found it a bit hard to use on a clients perspective without teaching them a bit of HTML. Thank you.

    Brent

    #1130711
    Greg_M
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    I’d agree whole heartedly that you can’t get across every platform, and that you should seek to give a client the right solution … a network of suitable providers would be a great idea … but also, how many would easily pass up a client opportunity that didn’t fit with their tools of choice?

    I’d like to see discussion on possibilities outside the WordPress paradigm too, but if you’re going to do that, why not open it up to the pro’s and cons of getting right away from anything that’s on the traditional “LAMP” stack.

    So far everything mentioned runs on PHP, possibly not the right forum, but there’s plenty of arguments against using it, probably as many as there are about which PHP, CMS is best.

    When I talk to clients I include server side languages and deployment options in the mix (as non technically as I can).

    Selling one server side language is nearly as bad as selling only one CMS platform in my opinion.

    I’m assuming the statement “beginner, intermediate and advanced” is yours … I didn’t see it anywhere else. If you mean by that how friendly the back end is, I’d have to say WordPress eats everything else for non technical users … so far as the inner workings go, I can’t comment about any of them (never looked that deeply)

    #1130712
    Divert To Mobile
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    estim8, post: 148247 wrote:
    I’d like to see discussion on possibilities outside the WordPress paradigm too, but if you’re going to do that, why not open it up to the pro’s and cons of getting right away from anything that’s on the traditional “LAMP” stack.

    So far everything mentioned runs on PHP, possibly not the right forum, but there’s plenty of arguments against using it, probably as many as there are about which PHP, CMS is best.

    Are you talking about using windows?
    I personally find it difficult to imagine any pros to using IIS
    When I published my first sites no one was game to use windows servers, I dont think microsoft had a solution for hosting sites back then. circa 96
    I think wp, joomla and drupal being open lends to their enormous popularity, also for me its hard to get excited about asp.

    Steve

    #1130713
    Brent@Ontrax
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    estim8, post: 148247 wrote:
    I’m assuming the statement “beginner, intermediate and advanced” is yours … I didn’t see it anywhere else.
    Actually I read it off a few websites that were reviewing the 3 solutions against each other. Granted I was doing all the research about a year ago and I can’t recall exactly which sites it was but here’s 1 that I just found quickly….
    http://www.socialtechnologyreview.com/articles/wordpress-vs-joomla-vs-drupal-comparison-cms-solutions

    Granted there are other languages, servers, protocols etc other than PHP and LAMP, but when it comes to website platforms, these are the primary ones. As Steve said about IIS, I don’t believe it is as good as Apache and if you look at website hosting, I don’t even think Windows/IIS is an option. I know that I can only offer a hosted Windows/IIS server with a VPS. But then comparing IIS to Apache falls into the same category as comparing Windows to Linux.

    #1130714
    Greg_M
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    Divert To Mobile, post: 148259 wrote:
    Are you talking about using windows?
    I personally find it difficult to imagine any pros to using IIS
    When I published my first sites no one was game to use windows servers, I dont think microsoft had a solution for hosting sites back then. circa 96
    I think wp, joomla and drupal being open lends to their enormous popularity, also for me its hard to get excited about asp.

    Steve

    Sorry, was a bit obscure, LAMP … Linux (server) Apache (web server) Mysql (database) and Php (server-side programming) … basis of majority of hosting options and free CMS’s.

    Open source has driven the web imho. I don’t know enough about .asp, .net or any proprietary code to pass comment on how good they are at their job … I’m just not keen on being limited to one supplier.

    All the mentioned CMS are free, well supported by their committed users and developers, easy to host (sometimes too easy).

    It’s easy to understand why a few have come to dominate, but sometimes their advocates hold their views a bit too strongly which clouds honest criticism.

    #1130715
    Greg_M
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    Brent@Ontrax, post: 148266 wrote:
    Actually I read it off a few websites that were reviewing the 3 solutions against each other. Granted I was doing all the research about a year ago and I can’t recall exactly which sites it was but here’s 1 that I just found quickly….
    http://www.socialtechnologyreview.com/articles/wordpress-vs-joomla-vs-drupal-comparison-cms-solutions

    Granted there are other languages, servers, protocols etc other than PHP and LAMP, but when it comes to website platforms, these are the primary ones. As Steve said about IIS, I don’t believe it is as good as Apache and if you look at website hosting, I don’t even think Windows/IIS is an option. I know that I can only offer a hosted Windows/IIS server with a VPS. But then comparing IIS to Apache falls into the same category as comparing Windows to Linux.

    Not a bad article, ta.

    I suppose what gets me a tad, is that any off the popular CMS’s particularly WordPress, are assumed to be “plug and play” by non tech users, and their not.

    In the right hands they’re as good as anything, but I don’t judge a system based on how many plugins there are … to me it suggests the functionality is not part of the core framework … so any one of them could be a weak link, it also means people can be sold all sorts of cut and paste crap by someone who has no idea what the underlying code is actually doing and what sort of holes it’s leaving behind.

    I also see quite a few posts about backing up, and what to do if your’e hacked … it’s why I now use a service where thats not my problem (or my clients) any more, all my sites are auto backed up to Git remotes (by the provider) and grid hosted. This wont suit a lot of use cases I know, but it does cover a lot of the territory currently dominated by the “big 3”. I think platforms like Squarespace will get more sophisticated very quickly and take a big chunk of the current bottom to mid range market, they solve so many issues in one go, at a price hard to match.

    #1130716
    Paul Warren
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    I’ll summarise this based on clients needs:

    • Small eCommerce site: BigCommerce.com
    • Medium eCommerce site: BigCommerce.com
    • Large eCommerce site: Custom / Magento.com
    • Blogging Site: Install WordPress (self hosted).
    • Informative: WordPress (self hosted).
    • Catalogue site: WordPress (self hosted).
    • Task Management: Trello.com
    • Project Management: Trello.com
    • Helpdesk Software: Zendesk or Kayako.
    • Invoicing: Xero, Harvest or Freshbooks.

    Hope this helps. :)

    #1130717
    JohnW
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    The last email I had on this topic was 17 Jan 13. The client said, “I keep being told Word Press is by far the best for CMS websites”. (It turned out this came from a Google PPC management company.)

    My abridged reply…

    “There are thousands of CMSs out there. Each one has its own pluses and minuses.

    Forget the brand of CMS!

    The critical issue is the skill, experience and support provided by the developer/designer.

    AND please involve an SEO expert before the designer/developer starts. :)…”

    “Ask any one-eyed WordPress devotee how long they’ve been working with it. You won’t find many with more than 5 years WP experience and even fewer who have broader CMS installation experience under their belts”.

    I was not trying to achieve this but what rapidly turned the client off WordPress was some screen grabs I sent of the page editing interface.

    I find WP has about the most user-unfriendly editing GUI of all the CMSs I’ve seen. As soon as you want to do anything more complex than formating text and perhaps wrapping it around an image you are going backwards and forwards checking your layout multiple times in the preview mode.

    The client also jumped on this limitation without any technical explanation from me.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen this important product feature widely discussed in “best CMS” debates.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1130718
    Zava Design
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    Brent@Ontrax, post: 148243 wrote:
    Could you please explain your reasoning for this statement. With the 3 main CMS solutions available WordPress, Joomla & Drupal; they are considered as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced; in that order. I have read heaps of articles, blogs etc that show a distinct difference between the 3 of them. Each have their Pros & Cons and a preference as to which type of site they best service. I have created, used and support both WordPress and Joomla sites, I have also developed in Joomla. I ‘ve not yet ventured into Drupal as I found it a bit hard to use on a clients perspective without teaching them a bit of HTML. Thank you.
    Joomla is certainly used by more “beginner” developers than WordPress. I went onto Joomla after my first CMS, Website Baker (used to be a really nice little CMS), because it was “easy” to put together a pretty complex site with directory, classifieds …etc. I soon learnt how much of a mistake this was.

    And if you had even a cursory look at the codebase for Joomla you wouldn’t be asking the question.

    #1130719
    Zava Design
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    JohnW, post: 148291 wrote:
    The critical issue is the skill, experience and support provided by the developer/designer.

    “Ask any one-eyed WordPress devotee how long they’ve been working with it. You won’t find many with more than 5 years WP experience and even fewer who have broader CMS installation experience under their belts”.[/INDENT]
    Agree 100% with this.

    AND please involve an SEO expert before the designer/developer starts. :)…”

    Or find a developer who knows how to build an SEO optimised site. Indeed, I would recommend this as one of the elements to help determine if a developer is a good one or not.

    With regards to content, that’s another story… ;)

    Quote:
    I was not trying to achieve this but what rapidly turned the client off WordPress was some screen grabs I sent of the page editing interface.

    I find WP has about the most user-unfriendly editing GUI of all the CMSs I’ve seen. As soon as you want to do anything more complex than formating text and perhaps wrapping it around an image you are going backwards and forwards checking your layout multiple times in the preview mode.

    This comes down to the lack of skill of the developer. The admin interface for WordPress can be customised very easily to make it simple for any non-technical user to easily manage their site.

    #1130720
    Zava Design
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    JohnTranter, post: 148239 wrote:
    ahem, option (4) – Advertise yourself as a particular platform expert, so you are only approached by people interested in that platform.
    (This does occasionally fail, I have been approached by someone asking for a blog website done in Magento, to which I replied that it might be better done in WordPress)
    Can be valid, though I’m curious: How often do you tell clients that you’re not the developer for them, and point them elsewhere?

    See, this is the concern I have for this example, that because someone is only using one platform, they’ll be tempted to recommend that platform on occasions when it’s not the best option. I mean, if you don’t have much business on, it would be tempting, no?

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